Over the years we have seen numerous complaints to the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) against gambling firms regarding their advertising, both online and offline.
However, whilst many of these complaints were upheld and online and offline marketing banned for breaching CAP and BCAP codes, there were few consequences for the companies responsible.
An advert being banned had a financial implication to the company involved of course, and if an online advert on a webpage needed to be changed, there would have been the cost involved in making those changes but often the ruling came months after an advert had actually aired on television or been seen on the site itself.
There are multiple examples of this available to view on the ASA website but one example that instantly sprang to mind was and advert from a bingo site that was running a promotion entitled ‘Debt Free 2011’.
In this campaign from December 2010 the site in question promoted a special game with the above title using phrases like ‘having your bills paid’ and ‘not having to hide from the postman’. This led to a complaint to the ASA question as to whether it was:
- irresponsible as it appeared to encourage people to gamble as a means to becoming ‘Debt Free’
- misleading as the actual prize being only £2,400 was unlikely to make anyone ‘Debt Free’
The ASA agreed with both points and banned the advert but this was not until March 2011 when the advert ran from December 2010 until the game in January 2011, a bit like locking the stable after the horse has bolted!
New Rules From the Gambling Commission
On 31st October 2018 new rules will come into force from the Gambling Commission and these will mean that gambling companies who break advertising rules (CAP and BCAP codes for example), or breach consumer law, will have tougher action to face,
This will allow stronger protection of customers and the changes that are to be implemented will mean all of the following (as taken from the original post from the Gambling Commission website which can be read here):
- it will be easier to take action, including imposing fines, against gambling businesses that break the advertising rules (such as advertising that appeals particularly to children or glamourises gambling)
- firms will face action for advertising failings by third party affiliates
- it will be quicker and easier to take action for breaches of consumer law (such as unfair and misleading practices or unreasonable restrictions on withdrawals)
- firms will have to provide better complaints processes, including an eight week deadline for complaints to be resolved
- action can be taken against gambling firms that send ‘spam’ marketing emails or texts.
We have already seen some hefty fines levied against a number of gambling companies over the last year or so but with these new rules, we could see further fines imposed for breaches.